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A myth refers to a story that is based on legend or tradition that contains a deep symbolic meaning. The myth appears to be true to the people who are being told as well as those telling them other than talking about a true event. However, some myths can be account for real events that occurred, have become changed by symbolic meaning or budged in time or place (Myths and Legends). The myths usually involve some supernatural beings/gods who are normally believed to have great powers. This also goes with the culture where they develops is the main reason as to why they survive for long period probably thousands of years. This means that the gods are believed, trusted and offered sacrifices by certain specific cultural community (s) in different generations. However, sometimes these gods' turns up to be very cruel and they cause a lot of suffering and pain and even death of people. The ultimate aim of this paper is to outline some instances of myths where the gods punish and cause great pains to the people who believe in it.
To begin with, there is the Norse mythology that comprises of many supernatural beings that are found in European parts (Scandinavia) most probably in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland their mythical believe talks about the region's severe, shadowed by long winters with no sun whereby the darkness is tied with gleams of sparks of humor and grandeur (Dunes, p23). It depicts the universe to be the battlefield for the gods and giants who fight in a cosmic disagreement destined to destroy the entire world. Their gods and goddesses well known as the deities have all the characteristics of life abnormal human beings (giants or so) just like the Greek gods though these ones hardly do they interact with the human beings. This world of Norse mythology contains two categories of gods; the Vamir and the Aesir including the giants, elves, trolls, heroic human warriors and dwarfs.
Each of the Norse mythology gods had its function for example, Frevja was a god of love and fertility, Freyr was as well a god of fertility and prosperity, Heimdall was a god who guards, Hel the goddess of the dead and so on (Norse Mythology). These people really believed in their gods and they depended upon them for almost everything. In case they wanted anything, they could just go to them believing and trusting in them and with their strong faith, they would acquire the desires of their hearts. For example, they believed it was their gods who created the earth meaning that they had their own creation theory (Myth encyclopedia). They believed the creation of the world and of human beings originate in Ginnungagap, which is a bottomless unfilled space between realms of ice and heat. There was a formation of frost that turned out to be a giant known as YMir. Then appeared Audhumla, which is now a cosmic cow. When Audhumla was licking the ice cliffs, she exposed a man who had three grandsons one of them being Odin. The story goes on to talk about how everything in the world came to exist from that minor background.
It is no doubt that they believed natural calamities were signs of showing hunger by the gods and therefore they could offer sacrifices for their gods to end the calamity. Note that the gods were many and each god was responsible for one or more natural occurrences. For example, Freyr was a god for fertility of the land and property. Therefore, in case the land showed some signs of not producing good harvest due to poor fertility of the land, they could offer a sacrifice to Freyr to let them experience good harvest (Norse Mythology). Note that the sacrifice offered was mostly the blood and flesh of human being(s). This means that the people underwent a lot of pain by shading the blood of their beloved ones all in the name of sacrifice. This made many people in the community to leave in fear and worry because when a disaster occurred, they definitely knew one of them was to be killed for the sacrifice to their gods.
Another example of a myth where people normally suffer due to the cruelty of their gods is concerning the Christians and their God. Note that this is an argument by the pagans and other people who do not believe in God whom the Christians believe in (Dundes, p3). The myth suggests that God created the world in seven days and placed the first people Adam and Eve on the garden of Eden who then went ahead to multiply to what is the present population which many generations. Therefore, the Christians pray, believe, trust, have faith and worship their one and only "living God" as they term it. It is no doubt that we experience the goodness of this God who provides us with everything including the breath we are breathing.
This people, the pagans and non-Christians argue that the god Christians credit with causing and creating everything seems to love killing more people every second than the number of people they claim are saved by his miracles. This is because a billion people die every day from cancer, strokes and heart diseases alone. Three million others die every year from drought, starvation and the disease caused by them. Other 200, 000 die every month from natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and so on (Norse Mythology). Why is this god allowing all these? Why is he doing small miracles while he kills many people? This is how the non-Christians argue and they believe it is a myth while the Christians themselves are against such arguments because they believe they live by God's mercy. Another group of myths comes from Egypt which contains myths like, the story of Re, Isis and Osiris, the prince and the sphinx. The other one from the book of 'Thoth' is the journey of a father and son who boldly go to the land of the dead. In this story, it is the son who taught his father a lesson unlike other myths. Most of the Egyptian myths also involved bloodshed where the people offered human sacrifice to their gods.
Other myths that involved sacrifices include the Aztec people of Mexico fed their gods by offering sacrifices of human beings that involved a lot of blood shed. The Aztec priests carried out elaborate ceremonies of human sacrifice. These people believed that life was very precious than even divine and the source of their lives was their gods. Thus, it was a must that their god receives a sacrifice before he becomes angry and unleash disasters (Myth encyclopedia). The other myth is from the ancient Rome where the people also involved human sacrifice to feed their gods and they used the statement, 'Be thou increased by this offering' while offering the sacrifice. However, the idea behind such a sacrifice was not based on pain, death or suffering, it was because life had to be returned to the divine world so that the gods would go on giving life to the human world. The other most common myth is from the Greek people who had their gods receive sacrifice of human beings as well (Norse Mythology). The only difference with their gods is that they could relate and interact with the people. The time they got angry, they were to be given great sacrifice of people not a person. This shows how cruelty these gods were in all the above myths since all of them involve shading and death of human beings.
The explanation offered by various cultures
The main explanation that you can get from all these myths is that the gods are responsible for the life people live; they are the creators of these people. The best example is the living God whom the Christians believe that created the Heaven and Earth. He is responsible for all sorts of things that happen to the Christians. The food they eat, the life they lead, the breath they breath and everything else. This is the main reason as to why they offer sacrifices for Him though not as a form of shading human blood, but in form of harvest products, money and animals. The other good example is the Norse mythology where people believed their gods created them and they are the reason as to why they exist. That is the reason why they gave sacrifices without caring for the other people who lost their beloved ones. This become part of their culture and their way of life and it is the best explanation they can give for the existence of their gods and for the trust and believe they had in their gods.
The same explanation is given by the Aztec people of Mexico who developed their believes and trust in their gods because they new the gods were responsible for the creating their fore fathers and they are as well responsible for all sorts of blessings they receive on earth. The Greek people who also believed their gods were responsible for their creation give the same report. Therefore, there is no doubt that the best explanation for the cruelty of the gods in various cultures is because the gods are responsible for their creation. However, today most of these people are Christians and believe in the Almighty God as the creator of heaven and earth.
What the cruelty of the gods and fate say about the universe
According to the gods, there are some natural calamities that may occur on the universe incase they are not satisfied by being given the offerings of human being. This was a sign of showing their anger to the people of different cultures. For example, there is a vision of one old woman which predicted the future. She painted a bleak picture of lawlessness and war in which the world was to thrust on the Ragnarok brink (Myth encyclopedia). The vision stated that the future will be an axe-age, a shield will be cloven, it will be a sword age, a wolf-age, before the world damages. The vision went on to suggest that there will erupt a great war throughout the world after three bitter winters without summer in between. Therefore, it is evident enough that the fate was to be harsh in case the demands of the gods were not met.